If Fox News’s Chris Wallace made arguments such as these on his own program, he would destroy himself.

In an interview with Michael M. Grynbaum of the New York Times, Wallace, host of the excellent program “Fox News Sunday,” criticized the decision earlier this week by Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez to stiff-arm Fox News for its 12 primary debates in the 2020 presidential cycle. A recent article by Jane Mayer of the New Yorker, Perez said, was critical to the decision. “Recent reporting in the New Yorker on the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and Fox News has led me to conclude that the network is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates. Therefore, Fox News will not serve as a media partner for the 2020 Democratic primary debates,” Perez noted in a statement.

The whole New Yorker angle, Wallace suggested, had the ring of pretext: “Do I think Tom Perez read the New Yorker article and suddenly said, ‘Oh, my gosh, there’s gambling going on in the back room?’ No,” he told the New York Times. “There is a visceral antipathy to Fox News among the left wing of the Democratic Party, and I think they saw this as a good opportunity to make a decision that I’m sure the D.N.C. was under a lot of pressure to make.”

That “visceral antipathy,” it might be noted, has something to do with the programming on Fox News. On Wednesday night alone, host Tucker Carlson, speaking about immigration, contended that the Democrats “are not for America. They’re actively against America.”

Wallace’s bad set of facts got worse:

“I can understand where some of the programming on Fox News, at various parts of the day, would give Democrats heartburn,” Mr. Wallace said. “I can also understand why there’s programming on in parts of the day on CNN and MSNBC — or, frankly, on the broadcast networks — that would give Donald Trump and Republicans heartburn.
“The question is, can you distinguish between the serious straight news reporters and the opinion people?” he added, noting that Rachel Maddow, the liberal opinion host, co-moderated an NBC News debate with Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders in 2016.

And it’s right there that Chris Wallace would demolish Chris Wallace.

"Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace says even though President Trump treats the free press like his enemy, journalists shouldn't treat him like he's theirs. (Gillian Brockell, Kate Woodsome/The Washington Post)

We know there’s a lot of CNN and MSNBC commentary that gives Trump “heartburn.” We have the tweets to prove as much. But Perez and the DNC weren’t addressing tough commentary. There were addressing “the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and Fox News."

And on that front, there is no equivalence between Fox News and its competitors. Rachel Maddow has never done anything equivalent to the cushy call-ins “Fox & Friends” held every week with Trump starting in 2011. Sean Hannity flew Newt Gingrich on a private jet to meet with Trump about the vice presidency, participated in a video ad for the Trump campaign, consulted constantly with the candidate, appeared onstage with Trump at a rally, used the services of the president’s personal lawyer, pushed the Seth Rich conspiracy theory and so on. When we asked Maddow whether she had flown any candidate, she replied: “No, there is no Maddow private jet, and the closest I’ve ever come to flying a candidate anywhere was when I accidentally sat one seat away from Bill Pascrell on amtrak. He was very nice!”

See the difference?

Thing is, Fox News knows all too well that its “opinion” hosts are corrupt peddlers of systematic falsehoods. That’s why you won’t hear the network’s big shots defending them. When faced with such criticism from a fellow such as Perez, a self-respecting news network would stand behind both its news people and its opinion people. Yet here was the statement from Fox News executive Bill Sammon in reaction to Perez:

We hope the DNC will reconsider its decision to bar Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, all of whom embody the ultimate journalistic integrity and professionalism, from moderating a Democratic presidential debate. They’re the best debate team in the business and they offer candidates an important opportunity to make their case to the largest TV news audience in America, which includes many persuadable voters.

Host Bret Baier tweeted this endorsement of the network’s news side:

And then there was this quote from Wallace to the New York Times about who wouldn’t be asking questions at a Fox News Democratic debate: “Sean Hannity and our other opinion people aren’t going to be onstage with the candidates.” Not precisely an endorsement of the opinion folks.

Hey, Fox News: Do you stand behind the work of your opinion side? Do you believe in their work? Can you issue a statement defending them? The Erik Wemple Blog has asked Fox News for just such a statement. After all, the Hannitys and Carlsons and Steve Doocys of the world may be feeling dismayed that no one’s citing their work as a reason the DNC should grant the network debate hosting privileges.

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